The Hudson Yards / Hell's Kitchen Alliance supports the established and emerging mixed-use neighborhood by providing supplemental services, improvements, technical and professional services for its members, and effective advocacy and administration.

 

History

The neighborhood at the north end of the HY/HK Alliance district is Hell's Kitchen. Loosely defined as the area west of 8th Avenue between 34th and 59th Streets, Hell's Kitchen has a history as colorful as its name. Though the neighborhood now has a reputation for restaurants rather than riots, many of the locals can recall the darker past of Hell's Kitchen history.

For many years, Hell's Kitchen was famous for its fights. From ax-handle arguments over clotheslines to race riots, violence was a way of life. No one can pin down the exact origin of the neighborhood's name, but some refer to a tenement on 54th as the first "Hell's Kitchen." Others point to an infamous building at 39th Street, and it was also the name of a neighborhood gang. The West Side was peppered with menacing nicknames like Battle Row and the House of Blazes (where arson was rampant). The name may have also been taken from a similar slum that existed in London.  

Whatever the origin of the name, it fit. Hell's Kitchen was troubled by violence and general disorder. In 1851 the Hudson River Railroad opened a station at West 30th Street, and the development of the railway brought factories, lumberyards, slaughterhouses and tenements to house the numerous immigrant workers. Poverty and close quarters bred ill will between neighbors, and riots erupted between the residents. Eventually, gangs such as the Gophers, and later the Westies, ruled the streets. Hell’s Kitchen also served as an appropriate setting for one of the most famous gang rivalries of all: the Sharks and the Jets in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story.